In another week, we will come to the end of the season of Lent, which is marked by the days of Holy Week. The days of Holy Week stretch from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, and they are the culmination of the season of Lent, containing the most significant days of the life of Jesus. Jesus travels to Jerusalem with his disciples at the beginning of this week, which will shape our journey of faith.
Palm Sunday, which falls on April 9, is full of celebration. We watch as two disciples bring Jesus a donkey, and he rides the donkey into Jerusalem surrounded by crowds shouting, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” We sing about the hope of redemption, as people place their cloaks on the ground in front of Jesus, waving palm branches in the air.
During the week, we ponder the meaning of Jesus’ words and actions, where he continues to teach the disciples. He continues to tell parables about wedding banquets and talents. He is questioned about paying taxes, quotes the two greatest commandments, and denounces the scribes and Pharisees, who confront him. He even speaks of the destruction of the Temple.
On Maundy Thursday, April 13, we will gather around the Table of Communion with Jesus and the disciples. Judas will have already sealed his fate, and Peter will promise too much. After the Last Supper, Jesus took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet, which illustrates the meaning of Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy comes from the Latin translation of John 13:34, using the word mandattum, or commandment, where Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” We will remember the towel as a symbol of this commandment.
For Good Friday on April 14, we will come together for our Tenebre Service. Tenebre means “shadows” or “darkness.” This is the heaviest day on the Church’s Calendar because we will dare to remember how the light of Christ went out. We will stand in the shadows of Good Friday, mourning the loss and wrestling with the death of Jesus. We will step into these shadows in order to understand the power of the light. On Holy Saturday, we will sit in its silence and await the joy of Easter morning.